Few coaches know what they have in early April, but Ed ‘D’Alessio takes that to the extreme. The Telecommunications baseball coach lost just one senior, outfielder Stan Simmons, and led the Yellow Jackets to a share of the Brooklyn A West division crown last spring with a host of underclassmen. Those youngsters haven’t progressed as much as D’Alessio expected.
“It’s a very unpredictable team,” he said. “I have a lot of new kids. I’m shuffling in and out 13 guys.”
Sophomore right-hander Chris Lee is the Telecom ace, senior power hitter Jason Galeano is back after missing the end of last season, but arm problems have limited him to DH duty and third baseman Jose Espinal, another sophomore, has shown marked improvement.
Yet, everything else is a tossup. D’Alessio isn’t even who will start Thursday against FDR – it could be senior Danni Perri, the ace as a sophomore who struggled with his control last spring, or several others.
Fort Hamilton can put their 1-2-3 punch of Franciel Campusano, Jonathan Maldonado and Franklyn Perez up against anyone in the city. The hard-throwing threesome combined for all 13 regular-season wins a year ago and are back a year more mature and experienced. First baseman Daniel Mendez graduated, but much of the lineup is back, from outfielder Jason Barton to Maldonado (22 runs scored, 18 stolen bases), Campusano and Perez (18 RBIs), who all produced significantly at the plate a year ago.
New Utrecht fell a game short of the Brooklyn A West crown, which will certainly be on the Utes’ minds this season. They return much of an experienced team, headed by pitcher/infielder/catcher Chris Hodgens, shortstop Matthew Settani and outfielder Nunzio DiMaggio. Hodgens, a junior who went 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA last year, heads up the rotation, and is joined by senior Robert Zaffarese. New Utrecht got off to a flying start, routing Lafayette, 13-5, Wednesday.
FDR may be a force to be reckoned with this year. Leading the charge is senior pitcher/third baseman Hector Martinez, who batted .407 a season ago with 15 RBIs, 15 runs scored and went 2-2 on the mound with a 2.07 ERA. Senior outfielder Enrique Leonardo didn’t play at all last year, but has three hits and five RBIs this year already and ace Joel Navarro was solid in his debut.
Lafayette’s 5-11 record a year ago may not sound like much, but consider the Patriots won their last three games and were a developmental program only two years ago. John Franco’s alma mater could take another step forward this spring with the return of impressive junior Ralphy Rosa and talented sophomores Dionis Quezada and Matthew Duverge.
The good news for Lincoln: It has youthful exuberance on its side with eight underclassmen. The bad news: The Railsplitters were routed by Fort Hamilton, 13-3, in their league opener coming off back-to-back last-place finishes.